A year ago tomorrow Lehman Brothers announced its collapse, marking the beginning of the end of the self-sustained U.S. financial system, as big banks crumbled one after the other and ultimately received $2 trillion in government money to keep existing. President Obama will use the occasion to deliver a speech on Wall Street this afternoon, outlining a retreat from the government's involvement with financial institutions. So how does the economy today, and Americans views of it, compare to a year ago? According to Gallup's charts, the economy is worse, but Americans are more optimistic that it's getting better:

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The measures are for percentage of Americans who say the economy is getting better/worse, percentage of Americans who say their employers are hiring/letting people go, and self-reported average daily consumer spending.

Here's a look back at how everything progressed. Note that a year ago, people were spending tons of money and thinking the economy was getting worse...and then it did: consumer spending saw sharp drops before Obama was inaugurated, then continued to decline. Now, people are more optimistic about the economy than they were on the first day of its collapse:

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